BACKGROUND: After percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty, prolonged supine bedrest with the bed flat frequently causes back pain. This study was conducted to examine whether percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty patients could adjust their bed position to make themselves comfortable without increasing the frequency or severity of bleeding complications. OBJECTIVES: To determine whether the risk of bleeding increased in patients who were allowed to use their bed controls to make themselves comfortable, and if the difference in comfort was significant between patients who controlled and elevated their bed position and patients who remained flat in bed. METHOD: A randomized clinical trial was conducted; 54 patients undergoing percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty were randomly assigned to either the control group, in which patients remained flat in bed, or the experimental group, in which they controlled their bed position. Outcome measures included amount of bleeding at the catheter sites and patient comfort. RESULTS: No difference in the amount of bleeding at catheter insertion sites was found between the two groups. Few subjects reported pain at any time. Back pain at dinner and bedtime was higher in the control group, but only the bedtime difference was statistically significant. CONCLUSION: We conclude that patients may be allowed to adjust their bed position to 30 degrees for comfort without incurring increased risk of catheter entry site bleeding and that requiring patients to remain flat in bed has no scientific basis.